Elf Child of Gloucester

Clara Bray~Elf Child, 1913 Alice M. Curtis/©Fredrik D. Bodin
People visiting the gallery fall in love with the ethereal charm of this photograph. It has universal appeal, and LIFE Magazine published the image in a special Children’s Issue in 1990. Back in 1913, a story with this picture ran on the front page of the Gloucester Daily Times. The headline read: She Proved Herself a Dainty Performer in a Pretty Play. The story went on to say that Little Miss Clara Bray was the leading character in The Elf Child Pageant, an event held on the Addison Gilbert Hospital grounds to benefit the District Nurse Fund. Six-year-old Clara, along with other Riverdale children, performed for an audience of 900, including Mr. and Mrs. John Hayes Hammond, their guests, acclaimed playwright Charles Rann Kennedy and his wife Wyanne Matthison, who was a leading actress on stage and in silent films. The costumes were designed by Mrs. Palmer of Rocky Neck. Clara later married Delbert Andrews, foreman at the Rocky Neck Marine Railways, and raised their family in Gloucester. In 1954 at age 48, Clara modeled for Cover Girl Makeup, and, as an accomplished pianist, performed at the Riverdale Grange and Trinity Church. I’ve met five of Clara’s children: Arlene, Caroline, Marilyn, Geraldine, and Bonnie, all of whom cherish this photograph. Reverend Bonnie Goodwin, pastor of the Christian Union Church in Truro, MA, is a special friend to myself and the gallery. Bonnie told me last night that her mother always had a distinctive glint in her eyes, and that sparkle never left, even in times of hardship. Clara, the Elf Child, was buried in 1979 at Beechbrook Cemetery, in Gloucester. Remember your Mother’s Day.
Printed archivally from the original 5×7 inch glass negative in my darkroom. Image #A8857-437
Fredrik D. Bodin
Bodin Historic Photo
82 Main Street
Gloucester, MA 01930

About E.J.

Artist, researcher, writer, spiritual traveler of this fascinating orb we inhabit, lover of life and all it has to offer. Hi everyone out there in GMG land. My name is Ellen “E.J.” Lefavour (a/k/a “Ejay Khan” – the pseudonym I used during my years as a political activist artist). I moved to Cape Ann in September of 2010, and was thrilled to be invited by Joey to become a daily contributor to Good Morning Gloucester in December of that year. I am a painter, photographer and writer who has lived and worked as an artist for 20 years, since leaving the corporate world in 1990 to pursue my passion. My contributions to GMG will consist of images (either my paintings, photographs, montages or the occasional video) and a little history about the image, called “Did you Know?” I hope to come up with tidbits of information that people don’t already know, or had forgotten they knew. As I am new here, everything is new and fascinating to me, especially the amazing history, so bear with me if I post something that is common knowledge – I’ll eventually come up with something that’s new to you. As an artist, I will also write about the incredible art scene on Cape Ann. Please take a minute to comment on my posts, like them or not, especially if you have corrections or something to add, as that is how I, and all of us, learn. Have a Good Morning Gloucester, and a blessed day.
This entry was posted in Art, Community Photos, gloucester, Gloucester History. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Elf Child of Gloucester

  1. Liz says:

    Thank you E.J.! What a treasure–both the photograph and your words about it and about Clara, Fred.

  2. Too Freaky! Scares me almost as much as Kim’s Photos of the Clowns in an earlier post from today.

  3. fredrikdbodin says:

    Hi Everyone- EJ is now posting my photos and the stories I write about them, which used to be posted by Sharon on Wednesday mornings. There is no regular weekly schedule yet, but hopefully there will be after Joey gets back. In the gallery, I’ve found that some people are freaked by the Elf Child picture, and are also scared by clowns. But 95% love the Elf, and many like her enough to buy it (the ultimate compliment). “Clara Bray ~ Elf Child” has appeared in LIFE magazine and other publications.

  4. Eric says:

    I see this photo every time i enter my grandmother Caroline’s home & I love seeing it. Clara is my great grand mother.

  5. Nancy says:

    I love the picture and the story that accompanies it! Well done!

  6. E.J. says:

    I love this little elf child photo and am happy to be posting Fred’s photos and stories, which I always enjoy.

  7. Lois McNulty says:

    EJ and Fred- Thank you for the story behind this photo. I bought the postcard at Fred’s studio last Christmas, and I have it on my kitchen wall. I smile every time I see it, and have been curious about who she was!

  8. Cindy says:

    The elf child was my grandmother she was an amazing woman ,I loved hearing her play the piano as a child seeing her fingers glide over the keys it just amazed me And her eyes that smiled at you even before she did. I am very blessed to have had her s my grandmother!!!

  9. amanda mitchell says:

    This is my Great Great Aunt Clara. <3

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